It is no secret that the devastation caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine has significantly affected the lives of all citizens of this beautiful country – humans and animals alike. Over five million people have evacuated their homes in search of safety. Those that have stayed behind have been fighting relentlessly to return Ukraine to its former glory.
One such brave group is “The Zoo Patrol,” an organization dedicated to saving pets abandoned by the war and organized by citizens of Kyiv (the capital of Ukraine) themselves. Ring-leader of this fearless group, Eugene Kibets, has brought international attention to his cause by organizing the rescue of a brave kitty named Shafa.
Shafa has become a household name in Ukraine. Known for her bravery and endurance, this adorable Persian cat’s tale of survival has graced headlines worldwide.
Shafa was found on the seventh floor of a destroyed high-rise building in the suburb of Borodyanka. The kicker? One of Putin’s missiles destroyed this building in early March of this year, meaning that this brave soul had survived without food or water for almost two months.
Shafa was first noticed by a journalist named Katya from Kyiv, who had come to the suburbs to pursue a story. At first, Katya and her team were unsure whether Shafa was still living. It was difficult to see her clearly from a ground-level perspective.
But Katya knew that she had to do something to try to save the cat, so she went online and began blasting the news of what she had seen all across social media in search of someone to help.
Luckily, Eugene Kibets and his team saw her posts and immediately went to work. To start, the Zoo Patrol used a drone to get a better view of the seventh floor, and they found that, to their absolute delight, Shafa was alive. Her fur was matted, and she was incredibly thin, but she was alive.
Due to the lack of structural integrity of a building that was nearing collapse, Kibets knew that his team would not be able to perform the rescue safely without assistance. So he marched right up to the local fire department and asked for their help. The brave officers agreed to lend a hand and followed Kibets’ team to Shafa’s location, their trucks with the tallest cranes in front.
The rescue itself took several hours as firefighters attempted to determine the safest way to enter the building. At first, they tried to enter through the center of the building and walk out onto the ledge where Shafa sat. But the fire had caused too much damage, and they could not find a path safe enough to walk on.
Their backup plan was to send two firefighters up on the crane and attempt to bring them close enough to Shafa that they could get her off of the ledge safely. While this plan was incredibly risky both to rescuers and to Shafa herself, it worked.
Two brave men went up on the crane, and as soon as they reached out for Shafa, she climbed right into their arms. The firefighter tucked Shafa into his jacket, against his heart, and brought her down to safety.
Once safe on the ground, Shafa was passed to the man responsible for her rescue: Eugene Kibets. He held her close to his chest and cried tears of joy. Shafa was offered water and placed in the safety of a cat carrier before being transported, via fire truck, to the closest emergency vet.
The veterinarian disclosed that Shafa suffered from severe dehydration and malnourishment, as was expected, but that she was otherwise relatively healthy. Based on her dental structure, the veterinarian estimated that Shafa was approximately fifteen years old.
It was at this hospital that Shafa was given her name. Shafa, in Ukrainian, loosely translates to mean “cabinet” or “wardrobe.” She was named after an image that circulated the internet of a cabinet that withstood a terrible bombing (pictured below). The staff chose the name Shafa due to her remarkable resilience and ability to survive, as was the case with the well-known cabinet.
Once Shafa was eating regularly and deemed healthy enough to discharge, she was taken home by rescuer Eugene Kibets and has been with him since. She is now in a safe place with no worries about shelter and unlimited access to food, water, and daily cuddles from Eugene.
Since her rescue, the people of Ukraine have looked to Shafa as a symbol of hope and perseverance. Artists have created beautiful works depicting Shafa as a Ukrainian soldier, in some of which she can be seen fighting off Putin and his army. One Ukrainian citizen summed up Shafa’s legacy like this:
“‘Every minute of every day, the people in Ukraine show the world their devotion, their strength & their love for one another & their animals. Something that Putin can never destroy: the hearts & souls of Ukrainians.”
Featured Image: Facebook